Things are really starting to ramp up for sci-fi Western thriller “Westworld.” If you aren’t yet caught up on the series’ first three episodes, you’re missing out on what’s very quickly becoming a sensational start to an otherwise dark and mysteriously twisted amusement park adventure.
Based on the 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton, “Westworld” is HBO’s newest flagship series looking to fill the Sunday night time slot of everyone’s favorite show “Game of Thrones,” which just finished out its sixth season this summer with a breath-taking season finale. I know I’m not the only one who’s been fighting off the itch for some more “Thrones”-like action, knowing that season seven most likely won’t be around until at least next summer.
Luckily, “Westworld” is shaping up to be able to fill those shoes for the time being, with a powerfully driven cast including Oscar veteran Anthony Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs”) and Golden Globe winner Ed Harris (“Pollock”). At first glance, this series might seem like another innocent Western drama, but I can promise you that with directors Jonathan Nolan and Richard J. Lewis and executive producer J.J. Abrams, “Westworld” packs more behind its barrel than just some rowdy cowboys, whiskey bottles and dusty landscapes.
Set sometime in the far future, the Wild West is brought back to life artificially when humans develop the technology to combine flawless animatronic beings with the concept of a theme park for rich vacationers into one massively interactive sub-reality called Westworld. These wealthy enthusiasts spend their way into the intricately designed world to live out their limitless fantasies and desires among a population of lifelike western robots. These fabricated human characters are programmed with complex algorithms that allow them to perform their assigned role within the world and adapt to the active will of the guests. The only thing that distinguishes these fake beings from real humans is that the animatronics are specifically programmed not to kill any living things, or so we are told.
As one might have suspected, artificial intelligence is prone to error, which in the case of Westworld could mean life or death. All sorts of problems emerge when the park’s programmers start noticing a pattern of minor disturbances with the android hosts.
Park management begins to worry when they realize that multiple updates to the code solve nothing, in all reality letting the situation worsen. Alongside the show’s arc and deeply suspenseful descent into chaos is the dangerous possibility that someone might be attempting to sabotage the network from the inside, pointing to some untold secret at the heart of the system.
What’s more than a refreshing sight to see is that “Westworld” refuses any level of modesty with the amount of artistic detail it dedicates toward substantiating a world that convinces you to believe is unreal. The show’s brilliantly written dialogue is seen throughout multiple narratives inside and out of the park. They represent the interrelationship between reality and fantasy and what’s looking to be an inevitable convergence of the two.
One of the most unique characteristics of the show is how little it lets you know from the start, encouraging an interactive adventure between both the characters and their audience. This show will have you questioning the intricacies of the human condition, and the moral efficacy behind fabricating life in a way that assumes the will of God. Only time will tell who has been pulling the strings of fate and what more the seductive secrecy of Westworld has in store for us.
Until then, saddle up and prepare yourself for episode four, premiering Oct. 23 at 9 p.m. on HBO.